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American Beverage Association, Coca-Cola Respond

The Washington, D.C.-based American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade association representing companies making nonalcoholic drinks, takes issue with the new petition to ban caramel coloring.

“4-MEI is not a threat to human health. There is no evidence that 4-MEI causes cancer in humans. No health regulatory agency around the globe, including the Food and Drug Administration, has said that 4-MEI is a human carcinogen,” they point out in a statement. “This petition is nothing more than another attempt to scare consumers by an advocacy group long-dedicated to attacking the food and beverage industry.”

Further, the group states that this chemical is virtually ubiquitous and found in trace amounts in a wide variety of foods and beverages. “Consumers can take confidence in the fact that people have been safely drinking colas for more than a century, as well as consuming the wide variety of foods and beverages containing 4-MEI, from baked goods and breads to wine and coffee.”

Coca-Cola says, "CSPI’s statement irresponsibly insinuates that the caramel used in our beverages is unsafe and maliciously raises cancer concerns among consumers.  This does a disservice to the very public for which CSPI purports to serve. In fact, studies show that the caramel we use does not cause cancer.  Further, the caramel we use does not contain the 2-MEI alleged by CSPI."

The ABA is also taking on the pending legislation in California. 

A group of plaintiffs including the ABA has filed a lawsuit against the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for its wrongful listing of 4-MEI as a carcinogen. “The state agency’s decision does not reflect sound science and failed to follow its own regulations.”

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